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Is it legal for me to create a fish tank decor kit using Coke, Pepsi, etc. bottles as the primary decor?

Elizabethtown, KY |

What I would be doing is legally obtaining empty bottles, bottle tops, and other pieces needed to complete the kit and then selling this as a kit my consumer can set up in their fish tank as decoration.

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Attorney answers 3


No, that would be likely to confuse consumers into thinking the decor kit was somehow associated with, licensed by, authorized by, or otherwise controlled directly or indirectly by the brand owner. If you do it, remove the brand names from the bottles and then, with the exception of COKE bottles or other really distinctive bottles, you might have something legal. The bottle tops and other branded pieces would undo that by putting back the confusion.

Since you seem to be headed for infringement, you need to see a trademark attorney to get guidance on how to change this kit to make it legal and how to create, clear and protect your own brand name and perhaps designs with patents or copyrights so that you can stop copies. If your kits are good enough to be profitable, you will need to be able to stop others from copying you or you might have great designs and yet go broke due to cheap copies killing the market for your designs.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.


You already have one great answer... Just an additional note, whenever you use a famous trademark, even if it is not on the same goods and services, you do so at a high risk.


No. This would constitute classic trademark infringement. The purpose of trademarks is to avoid consumer confusion regarding the source of goods and services. Your use of bottles with special shapes and labels to decorate your fish tanks would confuse some consumers into believing that your fish tanks were officially associated with, or endorsed by, the trademark owners. The only way you could do this legally would be to obtain a license from the trademark owners (i.e., Coke, Pepsi), and don't hold your breath, I seriously doubt if they would be willing to license their trademarks to a small operator of a project like this.

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